When do you think about freight forwarding? I hardly believe you think of it when you pick up a toy or a toaster oven from your local store. There is a 90% chance that a freight forwarder was involved somewhere to bring the product to your fingertips.
A freight forwarder is an important part of the supply chain. Now let’s describe the role of the freight forwarder; It’s basically an organization that uses the services of a shipping company or air cargo company to move cargo from point A to point B. Anywhere in the world a freight forwarder does not own the vessel or aircraft although some shipping companies are freight forwarders.
A freight forwarder is involved in multi-modal transportation, for example: a shipment of microwaves from the factory in China to London will involve inland transport from a factory to the airport or shipping port and once the cargo arrives in London, it will be transported by truck (Inland Transportation) to the final destination.
Freight forwarders are subject to regulations that vary by country. This makes freight forwarding a tricky business.
Years ago, freight forwarders offered limited services, they only focused on shipping, with time they started offering services such as custom clearance, warehousing, consolidation and other services. Some of these services were outsourced. This has given rise to third party logistics companies (3PL companies).
Freight forwarders that have not adopted innovation in the past few years are experiencing a slowdown business.
The industry has changed a lot over the past 20 years. A forwarder has become a one stop shop for all our logistics needs. This came with opportunities and challenges.
As a Freight forwarder adds on services, they need to add new talent. People who have experience in packaging, order fulfillment and customer service.
Many freight forwarders try to shed their skin and put on the Logistics Provider skin with little services because basically they focus on freight forwarding, their core competency.
In this challenging market so many freight forwarders are fading because they have not adopted change and innovation. We will continue to witness the change and evolution in this industry.
The next time you pick up your blender or coffee maker, remember how much work was involved.